Seven things you should ask before you buy

There’s nothing worse than buying the software you need for your business and finding out there’s a catch. Remember to ask about these key details.

Return policy

What if the package doesn’t do what you need? Or something suddenly changes and you can’t use it? Are you stuck with it or can you return it?

Seven things you should ask before you buy


What if the installation is tricky and you need help? Can you find some? What if there’s a problem and you need some help along the way, is there someone to contact? Is it a telephone number or just an email address?

System requirements

If it requires PHP 4.0 and MySQL 4.0, will it also work on PHP 5.0 if that’s what your server has?

If it needs to install a crontab, do you have access to that?

If it needs 512mb of RAM and you only have 256mb will it work?

Make sure you detail each requirement and that you have each.


How are updates handled? Are there any at all? If a new version comes out will it cost you money to upgrade, or will it be available for download somewhere? Will the download automatically install itself or will you need to handle it yourself?


Do you have the right to use the software as you choose or will you suddenly find yourself limited by legalities? Does the person selling the software to you have the rights to do this?

A lot of third parties sell software on discount, but when it shows up you find that the keys are pirated.

Not only are you out of luck when it comes to calling the helpdesk, you’re also exposing yourself to legal problems. If you’re purchasing software that grants you a license to use it, what does that license entail?

Does it do what you need? For example, does the book keeping program support the method you’re using and does it have what you need?

What’s it cost?

Cost is always an issue, usually the first question that comes up. But in reality you might find that paying an extra R200 now, saves you R1000’s later on. More often than not ‘cheap software’ is worth what you pay for it.

Of course you can’t pay thousands for something that should only cost a few hundred, nor should you pay hundreds for something that can be had for R99.95.

Naturally you should do your homework, but provided you’ve asked the questions above, you can be a little less concerned about risking your hard-earned money.

Hopefully armed with the right information, you’ll be better prepared to avoid the pitfalls and risks and scammers while getting what you need when you need it.

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